The Evolving Complexity of the Podocyte Cytoskeleton

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Nov;28(11):3166-3174. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017020143. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Podocytes exhibit a unique cytoskeletal architecture that is fundamentally linked to their function in maintaining the kidney filtration barrier. The cytoskeleton regulates podocyte shape, structure, stability, slit diaphragm insertion, adhesion, plasticity, and dynamic response to environmental stimuli. Genetic mutations demonstrate that even slight impairment of the podocyte cytoskeletal apparatus results in proteinuria and glomerular disease. Moreover, mechanisms underpinning all acquired glomerular pathologies converge on disruption of the cytoskeleton, suggesting that this subcellular structure could be targeted for therapeutic purposes. This review summarizes our current understanding of the function of the cytoskeleton in podocytes and the associated implications for pathophysiology.

Keywords: cytoskeleton; glomerular disease; nephrotic syndrome; podocyte.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Podocytes / physiology*